• A visitor walks past the lobby of Baidu headquarters in Beijing.

A visitor walks past the lobby of Baidu headquarters in Beijing. (Photo : ECNS)

China’s search engine giant Baidu has announced plans to develop a driverless car, according to local media reports.

Baidu's plan came in time as several Chinese technology firms, including e-commerce company Alibaba and WeChat messaging app provider Tencent, have expressed similar plans to launch and manufacture their own driverless cars.

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Wang Jin, Baidu's vice president, said in a conference on June 7, Sunday, that the company will work with an auto manufacturer, which it did not name yet, to introduce its driverless car by the end of this year. The company has previously worked with German automaker BMW on its semi-autonomous cars.

A similar plan was hatched by Google, which has been developing its own driverless car with plans to test it on public roads within its headquarters in California this year.

Similarly, Alibaba also announced to launch its Internet car that would take advantage of technology--including a map, communications services, digital entertainment and e-commerce--to provide a better driving experience.

Other Chinese tech firms like Tencent also have plans for an Internet-connected car, while LeTV, a Chinese video streaming platform, plans to make an electric vehicle.

Experts, however, said that visions of Chinese tech firms on the new cars remain unclear and commercial production is far-fetched.

The report said that Baidu was rocked by a series of scandals recently, as it was banned from participating in an international artificial intelligence competition next year after it was found that a team of their researchers cheated this year.

Baidu said it had launched last month an anti-corruption investigation into their own employees, including three department heads.